Star Trek: The Next Generation

“Half a Life”

2 stars.

Air date: 5/6/1991
Teleplay by Peter Allan Fields
Story by Ted Roberts and Peter Allan Fields
Directed by Les Landau

Review Text

What is it about the Trois that, given the starring spotlight, ultimately make me want to crawl under my kitchen table and hide? Whether it's "The Child" or "Manhunt" or "Menage a Troi" or "The Loss" — they just never seem to work. Bad stories? Bad characterization? My own anti-Troi bias that I don't want to admit? Maybe a little of all of it? I'm not sure, but good intentions misfire here.

In "Half a Life," we have Lwaxana Troi aboard the ship (rarely a good sign, although this episode ultimately tries to utilize her better than most) at the same time as Timicin (David Ogden Stiers), a scientist about to test an experimental procedure on a dying star that will hopefully allow his people to save their own dying sun. Lwaxana and Timicin meet and fall instantly in love, pursuant to every unrealistic timeline in every love story in every TV show and movie. This November-November romance isn't bad, but not compelling either. But then the other shoe drops: Timicin, in accordance with his people's longstanding culture, is scheduled to kill himself on his 60th birthday, mere days away.

To me, the episode was basically unsalvageable once Lwaxana came to her daughter wailing ("wailing" isn't a word I have reason to use very often) over the fact that Timicin must die "JUST BECAUSE HE'S SIXTY!" There's drama, and then there's melodrama. And then there's nails on a chalkboard. Lwaxana Troi wailing is maybe two steps beyond the chalkboard. I'm being mean, but when you have a story based on arbitrary alien customs, performances matter.

What can I say? Lwaxana is right. (Her message is fine, even if I still want to shoot the messenger.) Far be it for me to judge a fictional belief, but Timicin's society's custom is hopelessly silly, and based on all kinds of nonsensical logic and assumptions about the dignity of death in the face of aging, and avoiding getting so old you're soiling yourself, or whatever. The allegorical point here, somewhat rendered useless by stretching the story past the absurd point, seems to hint at our own society's general disregard for the elderly. But just as "The Loss" was an ineffective allegory for disability, "Half a Life" is a failed allegory for getting old. Do we blame the Trois? Well, maybe I shouldn't be that unfair.

Previous episode: The Drumhead
Next episode: The Host

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115 comments on this post

    I actually enjoyed "Half a Life." That episode(and "Dark Page") kept Lwaxana from becoming as bad as Neelix or Jar Jar. It showed her to be, shall we say, a more human person as she found happiness with a kind man who actually returned her affections, only to be held back by his own society's obligations(we can call those obligations 'silly,' but, hey, there are some here on Earth that I find silly, too).
    "Qpid" was another fun episode. Granted, there was no suspense, per se(like Q would allow Picard & co. to die in a fantasy he created), but it was witty, and how could you NOT love Worf's classic "I am not a merry man."
    I actually cherred when Satie broke down at the end of "The Drumhead." I thought it worked because Picard referenced her father, so the fact that it was a personal nerve that set her off made sense to me.

    I never really understood the overwhelming hatred towards Lwaxana.

    I never had a problem with either the character, or Majel Barrett's interpretation of the character. Once you accept what she represents, I think she can be pleasant to a certain degree. And when she's not, it always pays off to notice the crew's annoyed reaction to her.

    She was never my favorite, but I've seen worse characters on Voyager.

    Half a Life was actually one of my favorite episodes that season. It dealt with the issue through Timicin's internal conflict as well as Lwaxana's own guilt and struggle. Despite the cornball romance being grown within 2 minutes, I actually enjoyed the chemistry between both actors.

    As for Wesley, he was never the strongest character, but his best moments were the ones Wil Wheaton played against Patrick. Picard was as close to a father figure as anyone could get.

    Final Mission was also a favorite of mine, which would eventually get a stunning direct sequel through The First Duty. I look forward to that particular review.

    On the other hand, I would have been harsher on both The Loss and Suddenly Human.

    As a whole, I actually enjoyed this season a lot more than the third. It felt a bit more consistent and entertaining.

    In "Half a Life" I couldn't stop laughing, when directly in the beginning Deanna says to the log "my mother is on board" and then picard looks carefully around before leaving the turbolift. great!

    The weeping scene was somewhat over the top! This episode left me feeling a little glum after. Normally the message at the end is quite uplifting and I expected them to make inroads into changing the custom, but no, it just showed that resistance is futile, and one must surrender to such customs. Qpid was much more uplifting!

    And no one is mentioning the novelty of having Winchester from M*A*S*H* playing a Star Trek alien?

    Maybe after 7 years of watching the original Father Mulcahy on DS9, a one-off guest shot isn't as exciting.

    (And the original Hot Lips in "Where No Man..." and the original Painless as the Klingon Ambassador, etc.)

    Jammer, you must be very young, otherwise you would recognized that is episode had a poignancy that middle agers understand--dignity in old age. Timicin and Luxwanna weren't in love. They just saw in each other a chance to not be lonely. When you're young you can have friends aplenty. But in later years they drift away until finally you are as Timicin glumly observed "the recipients of young people's patience"

    The story wasn't terribly exciting but give it some credit for showing us Luxwanna can rise above being just comic relief. As soon as she's told Timicin must commit ritual suicide, she sobers up and behaves like anyone else who might be appauled by the idea of euthanasia. And that's the issue here. Star Trek is always tackling one social issue or another and this week it's euthanasia.

    Whereas Luxwanna is usually self absorbed and silly in every episode that features her character, this time we find she can logically debate a serious issue. "ah, celebration of life," she mocks as she hears Timicin explain his society's ritual suicide. "What you really mean is you got rid of the problem by getting rid of the people". And you can't laugh it off because she's absolutely right.

    Of course her over extended talking while weeping is a bit over the top but by the end the hour the gaudy wardrobe and shrill vocals are gone. She actually calls Picard properly by his rank in the last scene.

    I'm glad the story ended realistically with Luxwanna gracefully accepting Timicin's decision to adhere to his culture's demands. Too many times we've seen our gallant Starfleet crew miraculously convert planetary cultures and leave orbit.

    Hat's off as well to David Ogden Stiers who played an alien with a very human dilemma. The fact that he didn't have awesome powers or could walk through walls kept his character easy to attach to the euthanasia issue.

    I tend to agree with the pro-Lwaxana camp here... it was a good performance in character with her previous development.

    And this episode was far more coherent and dare I say it meaningful than other episodes in this season such as Night Terrors and and Identity Crisis that are throw away one off techno-babble mysteries.

    In fact the poor rating of this episode surprises me as a whole given how Jammer generally defends character-based stories and to me tends to suggest a bit of an anti-Lwaxana bias.

    I also thought the "alien of the week" was excellently played, and even if the message was somewhat laboured, it wasn't a bad discussion to have

    I don't think this episode was about disability. Rather, I thought it was about intergenerational conflict. When people live longer, is it fair to society that they also consume resources and the young don't have as many opportunities. We're facing this problem right now. Yes, enforced suicide is a silly solution, but guess what - it's not far off from what might happen. What if government cuts medical care for the elderly? What if we stop research into anti-aging technology precisely so we don't run into these sorts of problems? This is the type of episode that for me at least still makes TNG relevant today.

    Half a life was just plain stupid. Euthenasia would have made it more palatable. Accepted suicide? Cmon. Even a show like Dinosaurs was smart enough to come to a logical and objective conclusion on this subject. As much as I would have loved to see Earl hurl his mother in law off a mountain and into the tar pit, Robbie actually made sense out of the situation.
    Half a Life's stupid premise doomed it ftom the get go.

    While I like the movie, my "M*A*S*H" is the TV show and so I do love having David Ogden Stiers in the episode more than the other examples listed by Grumpy (well, I mean, I love Rene Auberjonois as Odo more than Stiers as Timincin obviously, but I don't really associate Auberjonois that much with M*A*S*H; he had a bigger role in "McCabe & Mrs. Miller" anyway in the Altman canon).

    I agree that the Lwaxana scene in the transporter room was pretty unbearably acted, though many of the sentiments worked for me. I do think this and "Haven" are the two main candidates for best Lwaxana episode of the series, which, granted, is not saying much. And unlike Jammer, I think that the romance actually is believable for more reasons than the ones given. Lwaxana is on vacation and is especially flirtatious and lonely; she is always as forward as she is here, but it's almost never that other people reciprocate. And Timicin is going to die in a week -- so there isn't exactly the time for dawdling. It's possible that they exchange "ILY's" too quickly, but I think that's again somewhat forced by the situation -- everything is more intense when there is no time for indecision.

    The premise borrows from "Logan's Run," but is less absurd than that (pushing from 30 to 60, naturally). The killing of the elderly once they cease to be vital is also an element in "Brave New World." I suppose I don't really think that the allegory in this episode is so ludicrous, though I can't say why I find it easier to accept (as premise) than many here do. What Timicin speaks of is something I understand, looking at my own family history: their society is dedicated to "protecting" everyone from dealing with what it means to become old -- very old. The last years of a person's life are difficult and frightening. Lwaxana, more so than any of the main cast (though this story *could* be told with Picard), is approaching a period in her life, akin to the one Quaice mentioned in "Remember Me," in which (at least she fears) she's going to continue losing people she cares about and it is unlikely that her life will get better. Her quality of life will be lowered and she will become a burden to others rather than a the strong independent woman she prides herself on being.

    In much of Western society these days, the elderly are not really sufficiently cared for. Timicin's description of death watch facilities where people simply waited to die is not far off from what some nursing homes are. Ideally, people would be cared for in the last years of their lives rather than (ultimately) abandoned to a system which cannot sufficiently provide for them, but for the most part we don't live in that ideal world, though I do think it seems plausible that the Federation does. "Die at sixty, regardless of one's situation" is a reducto ad absurdum, but the episode is certainly not arguing in favour of it, or even (imo) presenting it as a reasonable hypothesis. I think what it's more doing is showing why Timicin would prefre to die rather than live out his last years in a way that terrifies him; and Lwaxana does not have the right or jurisdiction to tell him not to. The forced-death is also an allegory for forced retirement (note how his work stops being taken seriously), as well as a general impression from the young that the elderly are not worthwhile contributors to society. Timicin dies, ultimately, because he doesn't have the courage to fight a world that tells him he's useless, and it's a tragedy that I find rather touching. He gives up, and take that as representing whatever reality of aging in our world you like -- no longer fighting for his usefulness, accepting forced retirement, moving to a nursing home and waiting to die. Lwaxana has compassion for him, though she is the model of what to do instead -- to carry on despite the sadness and fears that she have; and of course Deanna is a positive contrast to Timicin's daughter, who I think does care for him but is unable to conceive of what he's going through.

    I think Timcin is well-performed, though it might just be that I like the actor. Majel Barret Roddenberry, sadly, is not up to the task that the episode requires of her, and so I like Lwaxana's role in the episode much better in the abstract than in reality. While I don't really mind the "resolution" part of the episode's premise, exaggerated though it is, the standard-issue "alien warships to start incident!" part of the story was unnecessary and silly. The episode has significant flaws but I still have some fondness for it: 2.5 stars, I'd say.


    William, you usually write pretty good reviews, but I think your comment that the warships come to the Enterprise was silly or unnecessary wasn't on target - if the Enterprise doesn't return Timicin, they are abetting breaking an obviously important law to the people of that planet.

    Think of it another way - American parents think dearly of their children - what if the Mexican government was sending its agents to kidnap our children? The parents would contact their congressman, and it would not surprise me to see American Navy ships in Mexican ports, to basically say quit this practice or else. This is a similar situation.

    Also note that Timicin is well known - if he gets away with it (not doing the suicide ritual), it could send ripples through society - the planetary government realizes this quite well, and thus sends their warships.

    @Corey: what I meant was that I thought it was unnecessary within the episode to cause dramatic tension (and a pretty familiar device for this show, see e.g. "Suddenly Human"), not so much that it's unbelievable or out of character for Timicin's people to send warships. So they are different arguments. And while I agree that it's plausible that Timicin's people would send warships, I don't think that it's so certain that the episode would be unbelievable without that element (I don't see myself sitting through the second half of the episode thinking, "why aren't they sending warships?" if that hadn't happened). I think the threat of major diplomatic tensions is sufficient, especially since Timicin is already going to suffer exile for his decision.

    @William - I see where you are coming from. Except, actually, I think it was actually necessary for the story. Lwaxxanna, had nearly convinced Timicin to stay alive, when the news about the warships approaching the Enterprise arrived. In the story, that was the turning point, Timicin would not choose his life if meant risking the lives of the Enterprise or his fellow citizens on the warships, he would do what was right in the eyes of his people, and that was that.

    Without the warships, Timicin would choose life, which apparently was not the ending the writer wanted. That would be happy ending for Lwaxxanna, but not more dramatically powerful. So thus, they WERE necessary, contrary to your argument.

    @Corey: I know what you mean, but I took the true turning point -- and indeed the bigger emotional whallop -- as being Timicin's conversation with his daughter. When Picard asks Timicin at the episode's end if he's going back to relieve diplomatic tensions between their peoples, Timicin says, "it's not just that."

    This is one of those episodes that always tended to annoy and anger me. Not merely because of the characters, but the whole mess of a story. Is it trying to make an argument/cause debate about the actual issue of euthanasia, or about the dangers of euthanasia being taken too far? It doesn't do the former, and the latter just seems unnecessary, beating us over the head with the point that this action taken against Temicin was wrong when no one in their right mind was thinking this was a good idea.

    Look at the arguments made by the culture for doing this. They claim to want to spare individuals the indignity of becoming sick, but they don't wait for anyone to actually become sick or even begin to diminish. They want to spare children the burden of caring for their parents when that's not anywhere close to being an issue for anyone yet. What happens if someone becomes ill or infirm at 55? Do they have to wait until 60? Is an exception for early death made for them? Do they up an start making everyone die at 55 because of one sick person? But most damning of all, they show that they don't give a damn what the 60 year old's own wishes are, as shown when they force Temicin to die despite his wish not to. And at the end of the story absolutely NO progress is made towards their culture examining what they're doing, or the reasons for it, or Timicins brief resistance having any effect. Indeed the only positive I took away at the end was that hopefully their foolish actions will doom their whole planet, ending the practice once and for all.

    CoffeeAddict, I completely agree with you.

    It would be awesome to see someone write a novel or future Star Trek series episode where a mention is made of how the-now dead, lifeless world doomed itself due to the people's utter stupidity.

    Only someone very young would think that you can't have dignity or enjoy life when you reach the "ancient" age of 60. Only someone very young would think that people can't find love at 60 or older. That perspective is that of a child, who thinks being old must be a terrible thing. But when people to get older, they find it not such a bad thing at all.

    The problem with this episode is that it is muddy with its ideas. If you try to cover all aspects of an issue, you make a muddy mess of it. This episode started well as an exploration of ageism. His culture demands that people die at 60, but he doesn't want to die, and decides not to die. So far we're fine. He could have left his planet.

    Instead, they trash the anti-ageism message, and we get "accept the demands of your culture, even if it means your death." If you want to explore two different ideas, then write two different episodes. He wants to live, and wants to be with Lwxana, but has a sudden about-face and goes happily to his death. He exchanges what he wants to avoid exile, the scorn of his family and of his culture. Someone might well accept death to avoid exile and scorn, but they aren't very likely to be happy about it.

    I'm really surprised by the low rating you gave this episode. And four stars for the Barclay Technobabble dumbness?? Sometimes I think it must be a generational thing.

    Anyway, it was so nice to see Lwaxanna as a real person versus just a caricature of a middle-aged woman. (As a soon-to-be middle-aged woman myself, I was often wildly angered by her portrayal, and the fact that even though she's around the same age as our dear Captain,he recoils in horror at her advances....pretty misogynistic if you ask me.)

    I really wish this episode would have ended differently but I know Timicin would crack when his daughter showed up to direct him back on the right path. Oh, children and their self-righteousness.

    It's episodes like that that really make me wonder about the whole "non-interference" rule. "It's their culture! (tradition, religion)" is, in my opinion, a pretty weak reason to accept barbarism. In such a case the prime directive basically is the equivalent of civilised nations turning a blind eye to stonings and honor killings because "it's their culture".

    I don't agree with this at all. I guess I can't join Starfleet after all.

    @Moonie, I agree with most of what you say here (though I love the Barclay ep in question), and I like this episode more than most. But I disagree a bit about Picard. His "recoiling in horror" is...actually how he deals with almost all interpersonal issues where someone gets close. He pretty much recoiled in horror from Wesley the first few times he saw him in season one, for example. He reacts pretty similarly to young women approaching him on Risa in "Captain's Holiday," and only grows to like Vash as a result of their adventure together. And I think "Manhunt" screwed this up by having Deanna tell Picard helpfully that he's not allowed to turn her down because it might hurt her feelings, so that his only options are to enter into a relationship he doesn't really want with the mother of one of his crewmembers, or to hide. Or, of course, to ignore Deanna (best option) and just be honest with Lwaxana. Personally I think "Manhunt," with the "middle-aged women just so crazy yo, nothing you can do!" attitude, is a huge problem pretty much throughout.

    That scene with Timicin and his daughter (and indeed the whole episode) reminds me of the 1950's movie "All that Heaven Allows," where middle-aged Jane Wyman has an affair with a much younger man and her children keep pressuring her to give it up because It's Right. SPOILERS she eventually relents, and then of course her children go on and go back to ignoring her and then get her a television set for company. I'm not wild about aspects of the execution of this episode but I think emotionally and thematically it's fine.

    This is probably the best Lwaxana episode, not that that's saying much. I think I like the idea of her more than the actual presence of her. Some of the stupid Lwaxana tricks (such as nearly launching a photon torpedo) are just silly, but seeing some of the reactions to her works well. It just doesn't help when the plots surrounding her shows are awful (see Menage a Troi as an example). So it was nice to see a good plot for once. And it was nice to see Lwaxana forced out of her annoying mother character and into something more sobering.

    I won't get too much into the death/respect of elders aspect, because I felt there was another theme there too that nobody else commented on. And that is the theme of love vs one's tradition and culture. Timicin did find himself falling in love with Lwaxana, and was then forced to choose between that love and everything that he was. Lwaxana was, essentially, asking him to sacrifice his entire way of life just to be with her, while Timicin was demanding that she put aside all of her morals and beliefs and accept his fate. And, to the story's credit, Timicin simply could not abandon his life for his new love (just as Worf couldn't in Emissary). Relationships ain't easy, and it's not clear how much of yourself you can bury for your partner. Yes, this is a more fantastic version of this theme than, say, one person wanting kids and the other doesn't, but it still demonstrates it all the same. And because of the fantastical nature of the rift between Troi and Timicin, the helplessness and anger Lwaxana feels hits home just a little bit more.

    I must admit when Troi's voiceover said "My mother is on board", I was tempted to hit the off switch immediately, but I'm glad I stuck this one out. It raised some interesting questions about ageing and care for the elderly and I liked the sombre way the actor who played Timicin played it. Lwaxana was annoying as ever but at least she was annoying in a good episode for once.

    One of the main things I enjoy about Star Trek is the chance to explore other idea's and viewpoints.
    This is a very good episode because it covers just that.
    It's not a pleasant prospect (myself in my 50's) to have to die at 60. But if the choice is reducing resources to the more productive members of society then maybe that is an option.
    Sadly Star Trek can only give so much of a societies background in one hour so we might never know of all of the reasons for Timicin needing to die.

    @Marcwolf: Thanks for your comment, coming as you say from someone in his 50s.

    I find this is one of the most underrated episodes of TNG. It touches on several hugely important issues in our world, as our societies grow ever more international.

    We’ve had aspects of it for ages, like the centuries-old question: if a Catholic/Jew/Moslem/Orthodox/Protestant/[your faith here] marries someone from another faith, how shall they raise their children? And so on and so forth.

    Of course, this kind of cultural interchange was very limited until the 20th century. But these past decades we’ve seen more and more of it, especially ― I’m making an educated guess now ― in Europe, where we have much clearer cultural identities and defining lines than in the Americas, and where very recent and very massive immigration from other cultures, and the very process of forging a European Union, is forcing us to reevaluate not only our administrative, but also our normative systems. The difference between say, Greeks and Swedes is greater than say, between Alaskans and Texans. And certain cultural problems that arise when boy meets girl and falls in love are indeed beginning to be felt.

    So in my book, this is Star Trek at its near-best.

    Furthermore, the actual example in this episode is of course hugely relevant. You say you’re in your 50s. Well, I’m around 40 myself. I’m pretty sure that if I were say, 55, and a law was passed that would kill me off at 60, I wouldn’t be too happy about it. But if I had grown up all my life knowing that law existed, I would make the most of the twenty or so years I had left. Actually, I’m sure that I would have lived life more intensely than I actually have. In my line of business (I’m a historian), you can keep going as long as you have a lucid mind; but if I knew that there was a (literal) deadline, I would be more in a hurry to finish the projects I have, and move on, and live life ― instead of reading and writing comments here! It’s an interesting thought.

    You are also right about that very fundamental phrase of yours, “One of the main things I enjoy about Star Trek is the chance to explore other ideas and viewpoints.” This episode, along with ENTs “Progenitor”, is the one that does it best in all Trek, in my opinion. It is incredibly arrogant to judge supposedly alien cultures in space by our moral standards. These two episodes thankfully let the alien culture win, as it should, in a way unlike say, VOYs “Distant Origin”

    But as I said, this episode not only works well in a literal reading, but also as a metaphor. Sadly, it has none of the great lines of say, “The Measure of a Man” or “Q Who?”, nor does it benefit from outstanding performances by say, Patrick Stewart or Brent Spiner.

    “Half a Life” is a relatively quiet, slow-paced episode. But its subject matter ― both the specific in the episode, and the abstract metaphor ― is too important to be anything less than three stars. I think it works well on so many levels, and touches such important questions, that I wouldn’t hesitate to give it 3.5 stars.

    ^^^^ That's ENTs "Cogenitor", of course, and not progenitor. It's geting late; perhaps I should go to sleep! ;)

    I've always liked this episode. I like Lwaxana when shes not being totally ridiculous and here is my favorite episode with her. I also particularly like her in the episode where she's stuck in the turbolift with Odo and the one where she marries him (although not the A plot of that episode).

    I agree with Robert. I like this side of Lwaxana, when she is going out of her way to be kind to others. She really is a sensitive person, when she tones it down a notch. The episodes where she doesn't tone it down are usually awful, but her being there doesn't guarantee the episode sucks.

    As for the anti-aging debate, I don't mind its existence. Sure, it was handled clumsily, but arguing about this idea makes sense for the show. I hated the ending, however. Kirk never would have let them kill Timicin. Some days you just need a Kirk to come in and bellow his clumsy self-righteous banter until the opposition gives in. :)

    "Soylent Green is people!"

    Am I seriously the only one who was reminded of that movie by the premise of this episode?

    Jammer, I tend to agree with 95% of your reviews, but this is clearly an example of your anti-Trois bais affecting your rating. This is easily a 3-star episode, perhaps even 3.5 stars. Trek is at its best when it gets you to reflect on the human condition through its sci-fi platform. Yes, Luwaxana's wailing was a bit over the top, but this was a very effective use of her character. As the baby boomers age its going to put an enormous strain on our resources, and the topic of euthanasia, albeit an ugly one, will be lingering out there. Obamacare is probably one day going to head down the slippery slope of "rationed care", arguing that once you've outlived your usefulness, society shouldn't have to spend billions on the final years of life. This episode quite cleverly brings this topic out in the open and asks the question "is it better to end your life with dignity prior to be bed-ridden and soiling yourself"? I found it quite memorable and thought-provoking.

    One thing about this episode made me wonder: If the Betazoids communicate telepathically with one another, why did they even develop verbal communication during their evolution as a species?

    @CPUFP: A few possibilities that come to mind:

    1) they developed telepathically after developing verbal communication, and it's semi-vestigial;
    2) it's still useful to have verbal communication for recorded messages, long-distance communication, etc.;
    3) telepathy doesn't work in all cases, even among Betazoids, and the exceptions are rare enough that they don't come up. It may be that even the average full-Betazoids are not at Lwaxana levels, and so verbal communication is useful as a result.

    Fanwank time.

    There are 3 types of possible "telepathic powers".

    1) Active Send - This would be when you can push your thoughts into the head of another person.

    2) Active Connect - This would be when you can connect two minds together, similar to the Vulcan mind meld or Borg links.

    3) Passive Receive - You always hear everything that is going on in a radius that your powers are capable of. You'd have to learn to tune into a specific voice and/or block them all out to not go insane. This was discussed in the "Tinman" episode and in Kes/Tuvok's lessons.

    We pretty much know Betazoids have #3. Tam had issues tuning out the voices. Troi is sometimes overwhelmed by a powerful nearby emotional presence. So if someone is giving a speech they can "tune in" to the right voice (ie they guy on the podium). But assume for a minute that they DON'T have #1 also, you'd kind of need a voice box to say "Hey, Deanna" if you were behind her and wanted to start a conversation. Otherwise she'd be ignoring the background "static".

    There is SOME evidence to support the other 2 kinds (primarily that Deanna talks to Riker telepathically). One would assume that since he cannot "receive" at all, that she must be able to "send" to him. And one primitive, pre-tech Betazoids can send and receive they honestly don't need to develop complex vocal cords at all.

    Sure, once they develop the telephone they might be sad that they don't have vocal cords.... but presumably they'd just develop texting instead. Of course if Riker/Deanna talk via a link (as in #2), then they could still reasonably need vocal cords to indicate who you should "tune into". Although perhaps they don't need them to be so complex and would have just developed grunting.

    William B and Robert:
    Thank you for your thoughts.

    I think that maybe they just started developing these powers long after they already had created a spoken language. Since the powers don't seem to be distributed equally among the Betazoids (ranging from empathy to full telepathy including all three types Robert mentioned), it would make sense that they shouldn't rely exclusively on this form of communication.

    This episode also had me thinking about the Lwaxana character.

    I usually find her quite entertaining. This is mainly due to the way Majel Barrett plays her, which makes even sub-standard plots like "Manhunt" or "Ménage à Troi" enjoyable. Barrett should really have been given a bigger role!

    But in the first half of this episode, I was extremely annoyed by her. Flirting aggressively with a distinguished representative of a planet whose population usually avoids contact to other peoples? Disrupting a meeting for a picnic on the engineering console? I thought that Betazed's society was so hopelessly caught up in its aristocratic decadence that with the right pedigree, even a complete moron who is devoid of any diplomatic skill can become ambassador to the UFP.

    During the second half though, I thought about the issue some more and got a different picture of Lwaxana. It's obvious that telepathic/empathic powers are an advantage in all professions where you have to negotiate, since you can sense what the other party is feeling and thinking, regardless of what they are saying explicitly. This was explored with Devinoni Ral in "The Price".

    It's also logical that in a society where such powers are the norm, negotiations would be very different, since the other party can sense the same things about you. There would be two options to deal with this:
    a) You leave diplomatic double-talk and ambiguity aside, put your cards on the table and openly confront the conflicts at hand.
    b) You intentionally twist your own thoughts in order to make them harder to read for the other party. If you're only dealing with an empath and not a telepath, you could use techniques like thinking of pleasant experiences or you could use mood-altering drugs so that they could not sense your true feelings.

    Lwaxana apparently relies on option a). In all her dealings, be it professionally or privately, she's usually completely open about her intentions and bluntly states her opinion about anything (much to the chagrin of her daughter). But this does not mean that she is oblivious to the effect of her actions on others. Actually, I think that she often used this behavior intentionally on non-telepathic/empathic persons in order to throw them off guard, since they are not used to such behavior, especially from a high-ranking diplomat. I think that she often does this to "test" the other person, in that she puts them in a somewhat extreme social situation and watches how they react. As a full telepath, she can also read the other person's cognitive response to her actions and see how it corresponds to their explicit response in actions and words.

    We also know that her apparently un-diplomatic behavior is not a sign of stupidity, since Lwaxana can be pretty manipulative if it serves her interests, like she did with the Ferengi in "Ménage à Troi" or when she invited Picard for dinner in "Manhunt".

    So in the end, this episode made me appreciate Lwaxana's character much more, since what on the surface seems like the actions of an oblivious buffoon is actually a pretty smart method for quickly getting a profile of people's thoughts and behavior - something which should definetely come in handy when working as an ambassador.

    Lwaxana always seems like a person on a stage rather than a character on a TV show. She should read the mind of somebody with something to talk about.

    What the hell did I just watch? Seriously, what the fuck was that?! Did I honestly just watch an episode where there's a alien ritual about killing yourself and the only person decrying it is Lwaxana Troi? Because I think it just did.

    You know, I'm the guy who vehemently defended tradition in society back when the episode "First Contact" shit all over the concept. But this.... this is going TOO DAMN FAR! When you have a ritual that involves culturally mandated and state enforced involuntary euthanasia, the only (I repeat - THE ONLY) proper response to morally condemn it from the mountaintops! What the hell is wrong with TNG's writers?! Tradition and rituals that somewhat hold back scientific progress from a headlong and breakneck speed = OMG, shut up you idiots and get rid of that stupid tradition. Tradition and rituals that involve civilization-wide mass suicide = well, not our place to judge so go ahead and get on with the blood-letting! Seriously, WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK!!

    Add to that the fact that David Ogden Stiers delivers a rather wooden performance though most of the episode (oh, he has he's moments, like the scene with his daughter) and it only makes the episode that much worse. And you know the acting is bad if I'm criticizing it because I'm very forgiving of actors and their performances. Also add into the mix that not even Lwaxana escapes with her morality in tact and it truly makes the episode horrible. She just beams down to watch what she rightly called a barbaric practice?! Finally, "Half a Life" is yet another example of how the Prime Directive is a horrible philosophy that isn't even used consistently by the writers (people believe in mass suicide = can't interfere, people believe in religious figures = Picard can't intervene in their internal governmental systems fast enough!).

    I've said it before and I'll say it again - I actually like Lwaxana Troi as a character but with each passing episode with her in it I'm more and more convinced that that liking comes from only her final handful of appearances.

    "Half a Life" just might be in the running for the worst episode of TNG in my book. And that's really saying something, given all the horrible episodes that came before it.


    "'Half a Life' just might be in the running for the worst episode of TNG in my book."

    Okay, that's being too harsh. At least it has good production values and nobody is completely insufferable (not even Lwaxana, which is definitely a step in the right direction for her character).

    That's more than can be said for just about every episode of Season One.

    I guess I'm odd in that I'm actually fond of Lwaxana and find her infinitely more interesting and entertaining than her daughter. Put another way, if I must sit through an episode focused on a Troi, I'd rather watch Lwaxana - or Deanna reacting to Lwaxana - than just Deanna.

    Who'd a thunk it - an episode that imbues some real moral depth to Lwaxana Troi? As I read elsewhere, here she moves to become a "character, not just a caricature". It's also one of those episodes that you think is taking on a heavy-handed, preachy approach to a topic and then surprises a little by coming to a more mature and even-handed conclusion.

    All that said, it's not really something that pushes beyond any boundaries. It's slow and talky, and while it makes you think, it doesn't really have a lot to say. 2.5 stars.

    Boy, this episode would work so much better for me if it was written to have the timeline be a few weeks or more, rather than a few days. Of course, Lwaxanna would have to leave for something diplomatic, so perhaps they felt they couldn't do that. But to have such overwhelming love for someone in only a couple of days was too much for me.

    On this re-watch, I looked at the acting instead of the plot, and there were a couple of things that stood out for me. I thought Stiers did great. If his acting seemed a bit wooden in some parts, I thought that was on purpose. His race doesn't interact with other races often, and here he was on an alien starship with over one thousand of them. He (Timicin) might end up acting a bit wooden and formal. One scene has him listening to Lwaxanna in some quarters, and he casually leans against a wall, with a little smile on his face, and he seems so Comfortable and Natural. And in the engine room, he brushes his moustache a bit, then talks into his hand. Usually that is a no-no for an actor (and they didn't over-dub it either), but it looked completely normal and natural to me. Like what you might actually do when working on a problem. And another scene with Michelle Forbes (his daughter) was great. I thought Michelle really sold her disgust when talking to Lawaxanna (Don't you Dare talk to me about...). It really seemed like it came from the gut (maybe it helped her get the Ro part). And Stiers reaction seemed to be of genuine anguish.

    Lastly, eh, I like Lwaxanna okay. I mean, she is written over-the-top normally, so she has to be acted that way. I think Majel does that perfectly. Heh, and they cannot have her talk in a normal way (she must be a bit shrill) because she is the computer voice.

    Regards... RT

    This one is good. I could quibble with some minor things, especially in the first half, but, eh... four stars. One of the best of the season.

    I see that I'm in the minority, so let me just note what I saw:

    - Loved Timlicin, from his first scene to the end. He seems real in a way that few guest characters -- and especially visiting scientists -- are. When he's working, we get a rare glimpse of what feels like somebody actually doing some real science (as opposed to asking the computer to solve everything). In his personal life, he is believably, genuinely torn. It certainly helps that his character is so sympathetic -- humble, honest, unselfish, logical; but props to Stiers for selling those things so well.

    - Sci fi is, in essence, about defining some (often arbitrary) rules for how the world works and then exploring the implications. Here, we get 6 straight minutes of Lwaxana and Timicin debating what's right given the (arbitrary) rule that people of age 60 on this world must die. What I love is that in the end I don't know whose side I'm on. (Contrast this with the "debates" that occur in Drumhead.) The episode doesn't settle for an easy answer, and speaks through two totally relatable mouthpieces. This is "seeking out new civilizations" at its best. It's also what makes Trek on TV great (and the element of the series that movies are probably incapable of reproducing).

    - We have here a stronger defense of the Prime Directive than any other episode I can recall. Typically, the Directive acts as an impediment, a rule to bend or break as necessary in order to accomplish the Enterprise's goals. Occasionally, we get stories (Who Watches the Watchers) about how the Directive prevents Starfleet from causing irreparable harm to a primitive society's "proper" evolution. But here, we get an argument from a perspective of humility: maybe the Federation doesn't know what "proper" evolution looks like, and rituals we see as silly/immoral/primitive might be an essential part of individuals' identity. Rather than telling everyone how to behave, the resolution is to acknowledge our smallness in a big universe, engaging with alien cultures without trying to change them.

    - Along those lines, it's refreshing to see conservatism portrayed in a genuine way. There's no Krola from First Contact here to act as a conservative caricature. Instead we have a character who is both rational and deeply connected to tradition; he has good reasons for why being a social revolutionary isn't the answer. I don't see his daughter as a villain, either -- she simply conveys her understandable horror at what he is doing.

    Completely agree with Luke above, though perhaps in softer words. I like that this episode is thought-provoking and doesn't seem to have any easy answers, but I think the denouement leads to a broken aesop. The culture depicted here, including its most stringent believers (notably Timlicin's daughter), is/are highly manipulative and are willing to kill their own kind if they decide to abandon their cultural ways. Even worse, they condemn their own planet - and everyone on it - because they want to maintain a tradition, even when it's more reasonable to at least make an exception for Timlicin.

    So I feel no compunction to be concerned about this culture or take its side. It's entirely unreasonable and cult-like and, similar to what Ezri mentioned about Klingon culture, I think it deserves to die. Would be interesting to see this world mentioned again later in an EU book as completely lifeless now because they clung to a bad, self-destructive tradition. This comes from someone who supports euthanasia if it's chosen by the individual out of their own free will - not because they're pressured or manipulated into it.

    Reading all these comments, I am not sure I found a thought I had while watching it... When they talk to the minister of science, or whatever he is, after they finished the first test, what strikes me odd and disturbing that a culture is willing to, well, die while dismissing the fact that Timicin is the best scientist to do it... It's like saying "doon't you worry about our planet and our lives, the most important part here is that he comes down and kills himself, then we can discuss if we were to stay alive or be doomed by sun's diminishment" ... In a way it is very commendable that a species is keeping their tradition and values in the 1st place, but in times like this also very stupid, what good does your traditions do when you're ALL dead

    I can understand and even applaud not wanting to rework the cultures of others to suit your own ideas, but there's still a few problems I have here :

    1 - The Kaelons are supposed to be an insular culture, hence why no one knew about this ritual. Could it be a major reason why they're so insular is that they more or less know others will not approve of The Resolution?

    2 - Could keeping themselves so insular be a major reason they have less tech to save their star and less room and resources to provide, such as are found on newly explored worlds?

    3 - Didn't they say the Resolution went back a ways, at least a couple of centuries? Even so isolated, their tech and knowledge of aging must have made a different age for 'start of the decline' than 60 or whereabouts? Hell, McCoy at near-140 showed up in the pilot, and he looked like the 'how long is too long' question might be brought up - just never in earshot. Yeah, that's our culture, and UFP tech. But this was never subject to re-evaluation? Again, I can't help but feel if The Great Prophet Zonk had made up the resolution, Picard would have a few things to say.

    4 - Instead of the 'warship fleet for one person' trope replay, have it be that Kaelon, fearing cultural contamination, breaks off all contact unless Timicin comes back. Lxwana wants him to keep working, find a way to save their star and shove it down their throats, but Timicin fears the isolationist strain in his culture taking hold, and so goes back with the proviso that a team of young Kaelons are sent to Starfleet Academy.

    Again, I get the impression that the powers on Kaelon knew the rest of the galaxy would react this way, hence the automatic nature of the slam-down. It almost makes me wonder if they have had 'uprisings' before.

    I don't know why this only got 2 stars - I would give it 3 or even 3.5. I thought it was a poignant episode with a good storyline, and well-acted. Lwaxana is indeed distraught but understandably so. It's one of her better episodes. I think the scene at the end where she joins him is touching too.

    I think this episode had some good things to say, but I don't know if Lwuxana was the best person to say them. She was always so confident and comedically over the top before, but after this episode I feel quite a bit of pity for her. I'm not sure if this is a good thing to feel for a character whose gag is "no one can stand her".

    Watching a guy give up and die because his culture demanded it was pretty heart-rending.

    Surprisingly, one of the best episodes of Trek IMO because of the intelligence of conveying the arguments on both sides and the incredible acting by everyone in the episode. David Ogden Stiers did a good portrayal of his character... making sure not to seem too human... being mello, reserved, not used to others... the expert in his field. Also enjoyed reading all of the opinions above.

    About the Betazoid telepathy: "Tin Man" says that Betazoid children are not usually born telepathic - they grow into it. So maybe Deanna just likes being childish - it *is*, after all, her mother she is interacting with.

    Wow this episode has aged well. A bit of a masterpiece of an episode IMO, with a great message. It's also the only tolerable Momma Troi outting.

    An amazing use of Lwaxana Troi in this episode. Seriously. It's quite boring hearing all the endless whining and groupthink about Lwaxana above. We get it, she's not a fan favorite and oftentimes her character plays a foil that is not very subtle. But this episode shines because of her and the wonderful chemistry she has with Timicin. This is a 3 star episode, if not 3.5 stars.


    Please save your foaming-at-the-mouth anti-Obamacare rant for another board. You and your fellow tin hat wearing "death panel" preachers can stuff it.

    Thanks, Doug, for the Lwaxana comment. I agree this episode is a high point for her and she deserves credit. The bird-hairdo speech
    to Timicin is a favorite of mine.

    Like some others I am surprised that Jammer rated this episode as low as he did. I think it's a solid threee star episode, and represents the best use of Tori's mother. I will allow the fact that when you think about it farther the society under examination here and it's issue is absurd, and that does limit the amount of social relevance the episode can have. For sci fi drama, however, it works quite well.

    3 stars

    I liked this episode

    I liked TNG Lwaxana usually so didn’t mind her in this outing. Lwaxana showed some vulnerability and she was perfect for this story given her pep and zeal for living

    It was an interesting examination of aging and the alien culture’s solution. I agree with Lwaxana about living life and let people live until they die. Although I Could understand timicin going through with ritual ultimately after his daughte’s hardline stance and rebuke Especially the part about when the day comes when he finally dirs he wouldn’t be surrounded by loved ones or be allowed to be buried next to his wife

    The science mission dealing with them sun was interesting

    It was also Interesting the show depicted mature people still have sex in Leaxana’s afterglow scene
    Lwaxana just let your sun die if it’s it’s time

    This one obviously generates a lot of mixed feelings. I fall on the side of thinking this is a very good episode. I'm another who almost never likes Lwaxana appearances, but I thought she was good in this one. One of the rare times when she lets her mask down and we can see some real emotions from her.

    I do not condone the ritual suicide of one's citizens at age 60, but, trying my best to put aside my ethnocentrism, I can understand why theoretically a society would choose to go this route. That is why this one is so effective for me--because it puts into stark relief how indeed we treat our elderly. The romance, intersecting with the needs of Timicin's family and friends, and the failed experiment that could potentially lead to saving the planet with just a little more time--all this provides a stunning context from which to explore the issues of aging.

    3 1/2 stars for me

    I sincerely disagree with the review as well. I found this to be a slow, but very dense, well acted and heartbreaking episode. And I am just half-way towards sixty.

    Was I the only one who was laughing when Troi said "My mother is in board" and that's ALL she said. Lol.
    That's all the audience needs to know. Hahahaha. Then Picard looks all scared.

    Pour on the shmalz, guys.
    In Logan's Run we had a science fiction story about a society that imposes euthenasia at age 30.
    There isn't any attempt to rationalise this convention in the movie for the obvious reason that this is simply an insane idea.
    Unfortunately the writers of this episode have to try to present a rationale for a similar planetwide policy and fail miserably but quite understandably.

    The only reason to end it all that I could see is that you would be in utter despair at your daughter's idiotic hairstyle-seriously-what were they thinking?

    I am in the: This was a dreadful episode' camp.

    I'm with Derek D.

    I've always liked this episode, and it now carries more significance to me at 56.

    My mother is 90, a widow of a little over a year and still trying to recover from surgery in January. My father's death last year and now her illness have already created a difficult physical, emotional and yes financial strain. And we're looking at slow decline for her that I fear may break me as well.

    And like Timicin, she's now at the mercy of her children's patience. Of which my sister has almost none. So it's up to me.

    I found both sides to present very compelling arguments, which is always good "Trek" to me.

    Rather weak episode that, I think, wants to make the point that the elderly can still be extremely useful (as Timicin's work might eventually save his world) but it's shrouded in an artificial romance and arbitrary, stupid alien customs. It tries to win points by tugging at the hearstrings but the cupboard is bare and the end result doesn't accomplish anything -- the status quo remains.

    The now late David Ogden Stiers I think turned in a rather wooden performance for the most part -- it got better toward the end of the episode when the crux of the episode is on the table. But DOS was terrific as Major Charles Winchester on MASH. But here, I was expecting more from him. (And was that the actress who plays Ensign Ro his daughter? How about that short propeller hair style of hers?!)

    So Lwaxana Troi is actually used reasonably well here -- she still has her caricature moments like throwing herself at every man in sight. She falls in love with Timicin, but the scientist seemed slow to respond. Anyhow this romance was hardly believable -- it hardly evolved, but it gave Lwaxana the excuse to make some valid arguments about the ritual killing, albeit annoyingly for me. And are we supposed to marvel at Lwaxana's strength/conviction in pushing for change that Timicin doesn't have? Not me.

    This alien race's BS about the "resolution" - a celebration of life in which they get rid of the people once they reach 60 so as to spare the kids the problem of caring for them -- such utter nonsense. So "Ensign Ro" shows up as "Major Winchester's" daughter and convinces him to go through with the resolution. Was it to avoid bloodshed or a true belief in the ridiculous aliens' long-held custom -- who cares.

    Barely 1.5 stars for "Half a Life" -- it's tough to be intrigued by this drama when there are artificially (and ridiculous) contrivances, a stale romance that is thrown together, and some technobabble experiment. Lwaxana has her annoying moments although this is definitely one of the better uses of her. DOS was generally disappointing in this one, although he was a great actor, especially on MASH -- one of my favorite shows. RIP David Ogden Stiers.

    Very good episode.

    A) because Lwaxana is suddenly - and unexpectedly - not just annoying "comedic" relief, but an actual person with feelings and stuff. I'm thankful for getting to know a very different, much more serious side of her actually. I actually, really, felt bad for her.

    B) this drama/conflict between different societies with very different customs (and of course the prime directive). Trek has done it before, and of course this is no classic literature, but it is Trek's best attempt ever at it. Trek has never managed before or since to make it as meaningful on a personal level.

    One of the best episodes of this season, in the 3.5-4 range. A thousand times better than pointless crap like The Nth Degree.

    And of course, yes that custom is stupid--but that doesn't make it less believable. There's such an abundance of moronic traditions and customs in the actual history of mankind that I don't see why that would be implausible.

    @Gul - Totally agree. She's a great actress and when her character was doing more than being grating on purpose I really enjoyed her.

    I have no right to assume Jammer is misinformed, all I can say is I'm surprised at his notion that mandatory death at 60 is "hopelessly silly". As someone who has had a grandparent die from dementia, the idea, while brutally stringent, makes some amount of sense to me. 60 DOES seem a bit young, but as Timison says, (I believe, but I haven't seen the episode in years) when this custom was implemented, a uniform age had to be set.

    On a more technical note, I found it funny that we see O'Brien "lock" the transporter. This is a nice feature, so how do so many unauthorized transports take place? Should the transporter not be locked always when no one is being transported?.....


    A Lwaxana Troi story without mental pratfall.

    This was a sweet story. A very good science fiction premise told without explosions or over emoting. And a romance not involving youth or Riker. How refreshing and accurate to life. But I bet when I read the reviews above, I will find people grossed out and bored by the whole thing. Just wait my lovies. ( I may be pleasantly surprised!)

    What happened to poor Mr Homm?

    This one seems to split opinion, huh? I enjoyed it, personally. A Lwaxana episode I *liked*, rather than one that made me mutter "oh lord kill me now" every two seconds (Menage a Troi being the worst of those IMO). There's a lot of her usual self on display for the first half, so I appreciate that she calms down and becomes more thoughtful for the second. It's a relief to finally see her be more than one-dimensional.

    Aside from the clear theme of how elderly people are (mis)treated by their society, hardly mentioned in this thread is the discussion of how difficult it is to change or even challenge long-standing traditions and beliefs -- painfully difficult for Timicin and seemingly impossible for everyone else on his planet. It's a poignant, well-acted piece. Excellent work from a great actor.

    There's an inherent frustration here: Timicin's planet would rather have him die than allow him to continue saving his planet -- something he's on the brink of managing to do. But there's also a sad acknowledgement that the circumstances make his success impossible. If he survives, his only possible fate is to be blocked from access to his work and live out the rest of his days lightyears from home, while leaving his planet to die. To be able to survive and remain on speaking terms with his planet would require years of social change -- years that can't be suppressed into the few days he has remaining. It's a lament on how we often need more time than we have: society still fails many different groups of people, and many of those suffering die long before the changes that might have had them survive.

    In that respect, dying a dignified death surrounded by friends and family really is the best plausible outcome for Timicin. He'd been prepared for it all his life, even if those last few days shook his faith. I'm not against euthanasia -- people should be able to choose their own death and prepare for it accordingly, rather than being left in the constant uncertainty of not knowing which day will be their last, or what state they might be in when they die. I personally know people who wish that -- when the time comes -- they'd be able to plan their own death, for their own sake. It wouldn't be for me, though. So I can see something appealing about the concept of the Resolution, at least the event of it -- but having it forced upon you at a defined date, with no option to choose otherwise, is unconscionable.

    My sole problem with this episode is the background that set the episode into motion, specifically the problem with the sun. If this species sun is dying and about to explode so or whatever it was going to do then fixing that sun would become the number one priority about which the entire society would restructure itself to fix. So if their sun really was going to explode then NO ONE would be demanding Timicin kill himself, in fact quite the opposite. They'd be demanding that he DOESN'T die in order to save them.

    Also stars are VERY dense. So dense that it takes light almost a year to travel from the core to the surface of the sun. So photon torpedoes are not going to instantly be able to penetrate a sun. Not to mention that the fusion process is caused by and maintained by the gravity of the sun.

    For the actual meat of the episode I thought it handled its subject of growing old well and Lwanxana was well placed in the episode as a foil to Timicin. If you cut out the whole problem with the sun then this is a three star episode, but when you throw in the backdrop of the sun problem then the star rating falls to 2 or lower because the absolute need of the species to not die out in the next 20-30 years if the problem isn't fixed then this would take precedence over EVERYTHING.

    This was the first Lwaxana episode in which I felt genuine empathy for the character.

    The answer to your Troi dilemma is bad stories/writing. Because when both actresses are given good material to perform, they come shining through. See “Face of the Enemy” (Deanna) and “Dark Page” (Lwaxana).

    I rate this as a pretty good episode, Luxwana and all. (She's annoying all right, but that's her shtick, and you laugh while you cringe - and in this episode it was good to see a glimpse of another side in the final scene.

    Unlike a lot of people, I don't see the idea of a culture that imposes a deadline on its members as at all absurd. In fact a central argument against a move towards legalising euthanasia is that it could lead to a culture in which old people could be encouraged or manipulated, into choosing to die, for the benefit of their children - or indeed might themselves make that choice because they see continuing to love as a burden on those children.

    No need to have a law code compelling it if the social pressure and expectation become strong enough. Look at all the parents who freely offer their infants, female and male, for genital mutilation in cultures across the world.

    And in fact there was never any indication that The Resolution was a legally
    imposed requirement, rather than a universally accepted practice, underpinned by strong family pressures.

    And as with infant genital mutilation, other cultures may disapprove (more notably of the female version) but can do little about it. Even without a Prime Directive.

    And rightly so, because the principle behind the Prime Directive is undoubtedly correct - all human history seems to bear out the fact that forced interference with the cultures of other societies, however well intended, invariably damages those societies, and can even end in effectively destroying the people of those societies. Change comes, and contact can help shape that change - but ensuring that the change is for the good is a very tricky enterprise, even an impossible one.

    I've been ploughing through TNG from the beginning for the last 18 months or so at a rate of about five episodes a month. A couple of weeks ago, while skimming through an episode guide, I noticed that 'Half a Life' was looming on the horizon, a few episodes in my future.

    So I quickened my TNG viewing schedule a bit, to time it to land on my 60th birthday. Today.

    I do remember watching this one before, some time in the mid '90s. Probably on one of the UK satellite channels.

    I like this one quite a bit in many ways, actually. Nice to see the late David Ogden Stiers in something other than M*A*S*H, and he shows his versatility here in a nicely understated, hugely dignified performance, a far cry from Major Winchester. I've seen him in very few other TV shows or films, come to think of it. The only other thing I can think of is an episode of 'Rhoda'. I believe he was actually in his late 40s when this was filmed.

    I'm not a fan of the Lwaxana episodes as a rule - I don't find the character at all believable or interesting and the joke wore thin in the first one she appears in - but here at least, we see a different side of her after the initial overbearing / annoying act gets rolled out again.

    It's quite a nice idea. I did find it unsettling in the present circumstances, by which I mean being 60 years old as of today. It's a hard thing to get used to as it is. I can barely believe it, quite honestly. So the theme of this story, and especially its conclusion, made me feel disturbed; perhaps even a little angry.

    I would have liked to have had some sort of acknowledgement that a year on another planet isn't necessarily the same duration as an Earth year, given that it's a unit of time that's central to the story. But that's a nit-pick.

    Right, I'm off to take an overdose for the good of human society.

    I can remember when sixty sounded really old. Now it sounds more like the last flush of youth. But then I'm the Patrick Stewart generation. (Which is why I react quite strongly about to some of the things said in the Comments section of Jammer's reviews of Picard...)

    Happy Birthday, James! And many more of them, young man.

    Interesting to see people rate this down because they disagreed with the 60 age and planetary custom. Or because it was a Lwuxana episode. It goes with my theory that when people watch these shows, they form prototypes of what a “good ep” and “bad ep” are.
    For example, some people toss out the “bad ep” tag if a character they don’t like is prominent. Others can say “good ep” if the social issue being discussed agrees with them, but “bad ep” if they find it “silly”.
    I think once each of us confront our own biases when reviewing episodes, we can step back and analyze them. For example, my biases are tied up with expectations. Generally, if an episode surprises me, I will rate it more extremely, good or bad, depending on how it goes. Because of this I probably fall for simple twist plotting on occasion if the rest of an episode agreed with me.

    Back to this episode... for those struggling with the 60 year age setup and the realism of the political dynamic, just accept it as necessary script work to place the ethical story in the foreground. That ethical story is about the conflict between the comforts of tradition and their morality.

    @ Garlaxor,

    "That ethical story is about the conflict between the comforts of tradition and their morality."

    That's a sort of funny take on it, since the only instance we see of a guy hitting 60 is that it is distinctly *not* comfortable to him to follow this tradition. But I'm not sure tradition is the right word; I think it's better just called a law. The premise of the episode we have to swallow is, I think, a reference to so-called overpopulation. This planet is somewhat like China in that it requires a law to restrict the population level for sustainability purposes. There is a moral component, but the conflict is between the needs of the society versus individual rights. I think we have to accept it as a fact that if this law is stuck down then the planet *will* have problems and many might suffer. If this is not true then the episode really loses all its steam. So under the assumption that it is true, each individual has got to accept a personal sacrifice for the good of all. Far from being a mere tradition, this makes it a supreme moral act to comply with the law from the point of view of the society. Since Lwaxana is an staunch individualist (and an aristocrat) naturally she views her own freedom as the ultimate good.

    In fact when pitting these two values against each other I don't at all see a clear-cut line where one is more right than the other. It is surely the case that if each individual did whatever they wanted the society would be in big trouble. In this particular society the restrictions needed on individual license are perhaps stricter than they would be elsewhere, but even so there is no place there freedom vs social good is not a problem. What I think places this particular planet on the questionable side is the sort of calm acceptance of what is essentially the wholesale murder of all old people. It's sort of like fixing the social security problem by ensuring no one ever collects it because they're dead. Even though tonally they are different, the moral dilemma here reminds me most of A Taste of Armageddon, where similarly a 'social good' is pursued through the efficient and cold murder of entire segments of the populace.

    I think this is the best Luxwana episode too. Barret played this well. I actually did enjoy it, though some of her wailing was a bit over the top.

    I disagree entirely with this take.
    I thought it was a very interesting episode that gave a more nuanced look at Lwaxana, who I always personally liked as a character.

    Yeah, this is easily the best Lwaxana episode. There is an interview with Majel Barrett where she says that David Ogden Stiers came to her home so that they could rehearse their roles which might explain why they worked so well together.

    David Ogden Stiers always vaguely reminded me of Victor Buono. I don't know why. Both actors always made everything they were in better.

    Half a Life

    TNG season 4 episode 22

    "What do you think, Captain? Have I done the right thing?”

    - Timicin

    3 1/2 stars (out of 4)

    Star Trek has seldom done well with aging. Majel played Nurse Chapel back in “The Deadly Years,” where Kirk catches some nasty disease that makes him age rapidly

    That episode could have been a solid exploration of what it means to grow old and lose your faculties, but sadly, it was bogged down with a very tedious competency hearing. The other Star Trek episode that deals directly with aging is the Bashir vehicle "Distant Voices” where our good doctor faces the trauma of - oh my lord - turning 30!

    In contrast, “Half a Life” is a tour-de-force anchored in David Ogden Stiers’ powerfully understated portrayal of a man at the peak of his profession on the eve of his 60th birthday. Timicin is the leading scientist of his era in the most important field of scientific inquiry on his planet. He’s a proud father with a close relationship with his daughter. And he’s a grandfather as well. He’s respected by his government, and he is a gentleman. When people say they want to go out at the top of their game, this is what they’re talking about.

    Different species on Star Trek treat death in different ways. There is a hilarious line in the otherwise terrible episode “The Royale,” where they find the body of an astronaut who died peacefully in his sleep. "What a terrible way to die,” comments Worf.

    We see a little more of the Klingon attitude towards growing old in the glorious send off for Kor in DS9’s "Once More Unto the Breach.” As Worf describes Kor’s predicament,

    WORF: He is an old man with no family and no influence left in the Empire. He asked nothing except for the chance to fight and die as a Klingon warrior.

    On the flip-side of the long-lived Klingons and even longer lived Vulcans, in Voyager we met the Ocampa who live less than a dozen years. Their short lifespan reminds me of something an ancient alien called Lorien said on Babylon 5,

    “To live on as we have is to leave behind joy, and love, and companionship, because we know it to be transitory, of the moment. We know it will turn to ash. Only those whose lives are brief can imagine that love is eternal. You should embrace that remarkable illusion. It may be the greatest gift your race has ever received.”

    In “Half a Life” we meet an alien race that has adopted a, shall we say, final solution towards the old and the infirm. Lwaxana puts it this way,

    LWAXANA: What you're really saying is you got rid of the problem by getting rid of the people.

    The practice is barbaric in the eyes of pretty much everyone. Everyone that is, except these aliens. And that includes Timicin himself,

    TIMICIN: I attended the Resolution of my parents when it was their time. It was beautiful. Lwaxana, this is a custom I've known and accepted all my life.

    As much as Timicin might be in love with Lwaxana, he still values his tradition more. Until he realizes that he actually might be able to stop the destruction of his planet if he continues his work.

    It is very interesting that Timicin does not decide to abandon the Resolution until he has a reason greater than love of a woman - love of his homeworld.

    You see, his world is going to die because its sun is dying. Unless they can breathe new life into it. The sun, you see, is a metaphor,

    LWAXANA: If that's the way it is, I don't know why anyone's bothering to try to save your world at all. If its time has come, let it die. Where's the difference, Timicin? Where?

    What’s the difference?

    Here, in Lwaxana’s own clumsy way, she gets to the nub of the issue -

    For a People, can it be more important to maintain their Way of Life than their actual life?

    It is not an easy question.

    PICARD: I'm afraid you're the only one who can answer that.

    There are many peoples over the ages who have chosen to give their lives in an effort to preserve their way of life. The Kamakazie pilots were especially feared because they didn’t worry about coming back from a mission.

    The Harakiri ceremony similarly sees a perfectly fit and able person takes his own life to preserve honor.

    And in many parts of the world today, the euthanasia movement is growing, despite its potential for elder abuse.

    Because, it turns out, growing old and dying, or living with dignity and honor are complicated things.

    Bravo to “Half a Life” for treating such a complicated issue with so much dignity.

    What’s great about an episode like this airing towards the end of season 4, is that the characters are so well fleshed out we can enjoy seeing them react exactly as we would expect them to. Perhaps most predictable (and I mean that as a good thing) is Picard,

    PICARD: The Prime Directive forbids us to interfere with the social order of any planet.

    We see here a rule that has been fleshed out over 20-odd years of Star Trek, to the point where a Starfleet captain isn’t forced to play Philosopher King every time a moral dilemma comes his way.

    We see Timicin’s daughter (a young Ro Laren!) vocalize the shock and horror of the ordinary person in that community,

    DARA: My father taught me to cherish The Resolution. I don't know how you have poisoned him to reject it.

    And we see Lwaxana, who @Peter G. so astutely describes as a "staunch individualist (and an aristocrat),” and "naturally she views her own freedom as the ultimate good.” As she says - in words no doubt meant to reflect the thoughts of many in the viewing audience,

    LWAXANA: Well, that's your Prime Directive, not mine!

    Amen sister.

    I agree with @Shannon, that something here elevates this episode past the 3 stars of a good solid outing, to the 3 1/2 stars of a really singular piece of Star Trek. For me, it’s that Lwaxana has the self-awareness to at least wonder if she is wrong.

    LWAXANA: My life has been full. Now and then, perhaps it's overflowed a little, but I enjoy living. And now I am asking myself is it possible I was wrong to encourage Timicin to choose life?

    It takes a big person to question your deeply held beliefs. Maybe that’s why Timicin and Lwaxana are so deeply drawn to each other (yes @mike, @Jammer seems to miss the point entirely). Here are two people, both with stature and positions of trust in their societies, who are deeply devoted to the traditions of their societies. Remember how insistent Lwaxana was about having a traditional wedding for Troi back in “Haven”

    LWAXANA: It's an ancient ceremony, widely regarded as the most beautiful in the universe. After the young couple have removed their clothing

    TASHA: The bride and groom go naked?

    LWAXANA: All guests must go unclothed. It honours the act of love being celebrated.

    And yet both Timicin and Lwaxana are in their own ways able to step outside of their frames of reference for a moment to consider if what they think is true, is actually true. That takes a very special type of person to do that, especially at that age (although I defer to @James G as to what it is like to be that age).

    The episode ends with Timicin on the transport pad, having decided to go back to his people and his family after all. Picard oh so delicately asks if perhaps he wants to wait for a moment? But Timicin tells Picard that he and Lwaxana have already said their goodbyes.

    At that point Lwaxana enters. Mr. Hom is nowhere to be seen. She is carrying her own bag. She has grown as a person.

    I just realized something about Timicin's culture. When faced with possible planetary destruction I had just taken it for granted that the leaders of this world were first class imbeciles in not making a legal exception for a man who singularly could help to save them all. After all, their law is in the first place meant to protect the well-being of the population, and since that is its fundamental criterion it seems obvious to forego that law if there is an even greater danger to the population than the previous issue.

    But my realization is that the world is going to die - of old age. Its sun is dying, and although there is perhaps hope to rejuvenate it and extend its life, the planet's traditional ethic of killing a person when they are approaching their twilight years may in fact be applicable. Perhaps there is something oddly consistent in not only killing people when they turn 60, but in also deliberately allowing their world to die as it turns old as well. Maybe both Timicin and his world are being put down by the same law. I suppose it would prevent galactic overpopulation, after all...

    Watching this again I was surprised to see a microphone boom clearly follow Lwaxana in the mirror as she moves over to Troi in the scene in Troi's quarters.

    @Peter G. - You just realized that all by yourself, did you? Came to you all of a sudden? Some sort of epiphany, was it? Not, say, from when Luxawana Troi MAKES THAT SAME GOD DAMN OBSERVATION IN THE SHOW?

    @ O'Brien,

    "@Peter G. - You just realized that all by yourself, did you? Came to you all of a sudden? Some sort of epiphany, was it? Not, say, from when Luxawana Troi MAKES THAT SAME GOD DAMN OBSERVATION IN THE SHOW?"

    I suppose you're referring to when Lwaxana says "Well, if that's the way it is I don't know why anyone's bothering to try to save your planet at all. If it's time has come, let it die."

    I think it's pretty clear from her tone and her interest in the matter that she's saying something to the effect that the ethics of the planet are inconsistent; why save an old planet when they kill old people. It strikes me as being a sort of fatalistic reverse psychology. And in fact this is precisely the effect of her words. So despite the fact that your wiseass observation holds water on a surface level, it seems in context that Lwaxana is calling B.S. on his belief and still trying to convince him, and that she succeeds.

    My observation, on the other hand, is to suggest that they might on some level actually desire consistency on this point, and that maybe subconsciously they are willing to let their world die in accordance with their belief system. Lwaxana is not actually arguing that their beliefs are consistent with their actions; on the contrary, she's saying they're inconsistent, since they're trying to save their planet. But what I'm saying is that they actually may be consistent, since if you observe their actions over the course of the episode they are clearly not doing everything they can do to save their world, i.e. are therefore intentionally allowing it to die. You can conclude from this that they are either stupid (which was always my assumption) or that they're suicidal (which is my new realization). I don't think this dichotomy is spelled out or even present in Lwaxana's statement.

    Peter, by now it is clear that this O'Brien guy is deliberately trolling us for attention. That's the sole purpose of his comments.

    So please don't feed the troll.

    Thank you.

    Aaaargh. When I saw it was a Lwaxana episode I nearly didn’t bother to watch it at all. The only reason I did in the end was the appearance of Major Charles Emerson Winchester III… but sadly he was playing a character the opposite of himself; a dull and boring man.

    Majel Barrett overacted as usual, possibly one of many reasons why Lwaxana is the most irritating character in TNG. As for the story - social care is something of a current burning issue in the UK, and relevant to me personally. However, it didn’t need a 45 minute episode of Star Trek to skirt around the subject in a superficial way; better to have left it to a documentary… unless of course, the early 90s producers thought it something insufficiently mentioned elsewhere?

    I really didn’t like this one. 1.5 stars.

    This is actually one of my favorite episodes, although I'll grant it's not worth 4 stars, exactly.

    I never understood the Lwaxana hate, and I think she's very good here. I think her little romance with Timicin is charming, and her outrage upon learning of his impending death was totally understandable.

    David Ogden Stiers nails it as Timicin, as well.

    This is a solid 3 star outing... maybe even 3.5.

    This episode has been reappraised as the years have gone by, Noni. Jammer gave it a low rating, and most of the early comments are fairly negative, but as time goes by the comments keep getting more and more positive.

    Personally, it's my favorite Lwaxana episode, anchored as it is by two very touching performances.

    Imagine how awful it would be to actually hear what other people were thinking - all the snide comments and random dark thoughts that people have. It would take constant effort to ignore most thoughts and to try not to conclude that every single person that exists is a complete and utter ass. I think that's why she's like she is, she tries to talk over and block out so much of what she "hears."

    I can't help thinking she'd be kind of fun to hang out with though. At least for a little while.

    I didn’t see it, and I don’t feel like scrolling back to see it, but according to the Memory Alpha article on this episode, one of the monitors Timicin is looking at displays prominently the number 4077.

    @Eduardo (2008)

    "As for Wesley, he was never the strongest character, but his best moments were the ones Wil Wheaton played against Patrick. Picard was as close to a father figure as anyone could get."

    When TNG started, I got the strong impression that there was some subtle suggestion that Picard might have been Wesley's biological father. We learned pretty definitively in season 7 that that wasn't the case when (in "Attached") Dr. Crusher realized that Picard had been in love with her when they were younger, and once that secret was out, Picard told her he'd sworn never to act on his feelings or to let her know about them. FWIW, I always thought Stewart and McFadden had great chemistry together.

    3.5 stars.

    When Lwaxana is allowed to be vulnerable and not an over-sexed boor cooked up by a bunch of insecure dudes, she’s not half bad. Downright good for that matter.

    As someone who’s seen their loved ones fall apart with age, the theme of this episode hit a resonant note.
    Both Timicin and Lwaxana struggle with what it means to lose your self — in cruel, pointless, and irrevocable
    fashion — to the passage of time. It’s a thoughtful character driven story that would have never seen the light of day in seasons 1 or 2.

    This episode presents relevant issues in a time when a worldwide pandemic is particularly fatal to people over age 65. Would there be as many anti vaxxers or anti maskers if the dangers presented by the spread of the virus were to younger folks?

    Oh no, no; this was FAR more than two stars.

    For one thing, Luxana (or whatever the spelling) is not annoying. I find her humorous to quite a degree, certainly enough of a degree to offset what irritating qualities she has. Frankly, I'd rather have two episodes, back-to-back, of her shenanigans than five minutes of some 20th-century holoDRECK or Worf doing silly incantations about "honor."

    As far as the A-story of this episode, it is far, far more profound and relevant than Jammer seems to realize. With the world inexorably spiraling into acceptance of both euthanasia and statism, it's only a matter of time before Big Government decides that old people are too much of a burden on the society it oh-so benevolently provides for and mandates they be dispatched if there's nobody willing and able to care for them. After all, if we can slaughter nine-month-old babies, and there are even moves afoot to legalize POST-birth abortion, then why would the life of a dementia-ridden, bedridden, little old lady be any more worth prolonging, especially if Big Government provides her healthcare? I fear this episode will be a documentary rather than fiction in not-too-distant future...

    @Lmo: Dude, don't be ludicrous. Even among the seniors, with multiple underlying conditions, the death rate from the China virus is well under 10%. Please educate yourself. That said, you pretty much answered your own question: If the China virus really WAS more dangerous to a fit and healthy 42-year-old man like me than the 0.0024% fatality rate it has, then I might take the experimental gene therapy they call "vaccine." But since it's not, I'll take the 99.9966% survival odds over a "vaccine" that was knocked up in a lab less than two years ago and tested for the whole of four months (with the data pertaining to said tests classified for 70 years and the Big Pharma behind the "vaccines" immune from civil prosecution) any day of the week.

    P.S. Major Charles Emerson Winchester III, R.I.P. We salute you...

    A middle aged man working through some issues. He writes a sentence or two about the episode and then it's culture war all the way. Irrationality masquerading itself as rationality. There are obvious mistakes in his posts and the fact that he has no interest in discussing them maybe shows that deep down he has more doubts than he would like to admit but it could also mean that his views give him the feeling of being special. He is part of the enlightened elite who warns the dumb peasantry (that's us) about how the government will soon start gassing grandma.

    What more is there to say than that statistics and probability theory are not for everybody and that the mental health crisis in the US seems to be getting worse.

    The episode "Half Life" was enough to make me look for opinions about it, and here I am. I am surprised how many comments there are; I don't have time to read them all. I read this article/review of the story, and I am not so quick to dismiss the characters as frivolous and trivial; I thought they did a wonderful job. My first thought was "No way! Don't let him proceed with 'The Resolution'!" But after I heard the conversation with his daughter I found myself being conflicted as did Timicin. I think I understand why he changed his mind -- the love of a daughter was more than the desire to change. I can see how custom and tradition can become so ingrained in society that it becomes the "norm" and even the expectation of one’s self to follow. I'm glad we do not have this tradition/custom, but I also understand why Picard did not intervene. A remarkable story as are most of Roddenberry's stories. Bravo!

    Yeah, this is a pretty solid episode. Easily my favorite Lwaxana episode.

    The idea that everyone on this planet would just willingly and happily end their own life and that all of their loved ones would be all for them dying as well, all for some stupid tradition, is beyond absurd. Sure a few might but an entire planet, no. That's another thing that bugs me about this show, nearly all the planets they visit are all just one world governments where everyone is exactly the same. What an unlikable and obnoxious people these were too, especially his daughter. I hope their sun explodes and kills them all.

    I don't find it farfetched at all. Is it so hard to imagine an overcrowded planet where ceremonial euthanasia for the greater good of society or the environment becomes a tradition?

    I don't find the "everyone is the same" thing a problem either. I mean culturally not on the individual level. Think about how advanced a species has to be to achieve faster than light travel. They wouldn't just jump from an industrial revolution to FTL space travel, right? There would likely be hundreds of years or more of technological evolution. Think about a society that has had the internet (or even more advanced forms of communication) for hundreds of years. Think about how homogenized that society would become. The merging of languages, beliefs, and ultimately culture that would likely occur. Would a society this mature and homogenous likely have a need for multiple governments?

    With that level of technology a society that was still factionalized likely wouldn't survive. So if it helps, just imagine that the Enterprise sails past a lot of smoldering planets that almost made it up that next rung of the ladder.

    Right after Lwaxanas meltdown and storms off Picard says "Counselor Troi please come in!"

    A moment of comedy in an otherwise dramatic moment.

    In most cases i can agree with Jammers ratings, here though...not so much.

    I always liked that episode.

    Just watched this ep, with no memory of a previous viewing from a decade or more ago. Have to say I love the remastered Blu rays of TNG and TOS, they are awesome, both visually and audibly. Fingers crossed for a DS9 remastering, but hope runs slim for that.

    The 60 year lifespan limit is very reminiscent of Asimov’s first novel “Pebble in the Sky.” However, “The Sixty” was enforced due to limited planetary resources, not personal infirmity. I tend to agree with those objecting to it as an unreasonable plot device. Limited resources is a more logical reason for a blind age limit, but it would have been more difficult to argue about because it is more reasonable.

    This is now my second favorite Lwaxana episode. That’s not to say that she’s a favorite character of mine, but she does have endearing moments. I completely understand Jammer’s dislike for the character, I have a similar dislike for “cringe humor,” like The Office. But I love seeing characters grow. Lwaxana, up to this point, has been a spoiled child that everyone indulges due to her status and out of respect for Deanna. Ahe probably rarely experiences serious consequences for her rude, rash, selfish actions. This time, she is personally invested in a tragic upcoming event over which she has no control, and finally accepts that the right action, regardless of how painful for herself, is to honor the sincere decision of someone she has strong feelings for, and then she embraces it by staying with him to the end. In a moment of growth and triumph over her selfish impulses, we finally meet grownup Lwaxana. For me it’s a moment that justifies the lengthy establishment of unbearable Lwaxana, but I completely understand those who don’t see it that way.

    There’s a similar growth moment in Firefly, (Jammer, you could knock off all 14 episodes AND the movie in a long weekend), at the end of the episode “Jaynestown.” Jayne, the immature selfish rude character, is astounded when a complete stranger deliberately takes a bullet for him. He would never do that himself, so he can’t wrap his head around it when someone does it for him. You can just see the character struggling with a new perception of reality.

    Surprised nobody pointed out the guest appearance of the future Ensign Roe, the very tall Michelle Forbes as Timicin’s daughter. Perhaps casting wanted to have someone who could literally stand up to the equally tall Majel Barrett, and Susie Plackson would have been too recognizable in such light alien makeup. Perhaps that also played in favor of choosing David Ogden Stiers, who stood above even the towering Michael Dorn.

    Oh, my fave Lwaxana ep is DS9 “The Forsaken”, which I also haven’t seen in many years. Both Odo and Lwaxana are very conscious of appearances, and they end up bonding over loss of personal dignity. Come to think, this is a growth moment too, mainly for Odo learning to trust.

    This is actually up there for my favourite Mrs. Troi Episode, in my book. Lwaxana episodes either really hit or really miss, and this one really hit for me, mainly because they actually let Majel Barrett drop the comedy for five minutes and sink her teeth into the story. The other part of it was David Ogden Stiers being one of the best aliens-of-the-week thus far. He gave Timicin a kind of subdued gentle-bear dignity that I thought played really well with the Lwaxana character. The chemistry between the two of them carries the episode.

    For all the absurdity of the Kaelon aging rituals, and the ridiculousness of how far they're willing to escalate to get one guy back home to off himself, I found it easy to suspend disbelief simply because I enjoyed the Lwaxana-Timicin stuff.

    What upset me in this episode, was that it did not go into the choice aspect of the matter, purely treating it as an allegory to enforcing believes onto other cultures, and an allegory to euthanasia. But the way it is presented, it is not ritual suicide, it is ritual murder. Our culture includes celebrating Christmas, yet it does not force people to celebrate Christmas, one is not thrown in prison for not celebrating Christmas. Eating Haggis is a Scottish custom, yet Scotland also has vegetarians. It is not a culture of committing ritual suicide by 60, since suicide is something someone does by choice. Timicin had no option to refuse to participate, he was forced to. Hence it is murder, not ritual suicide. It gave me a very uneasy feeling that the aspect of choice in the matter was not looked into. Also euthanasia is done at the request of a patient, never is a patient forced into it.

    I hated this episode. Hated it. Lwaxana did not bother me. Charles Emerson Winchester did not bother me. The storyline was ludicrous.

    However, Worf reacting to being called Woof by Lwaxanamade me laugh out loud.

    So the people of Kalon II would rather let their sun and whole planet die rather than overrule a law that their most eminent scientist on the matter has to end his life at 60. The life of one scientist vs. the life of a whole planet. If they are so backward that they can't make that kind of simple cost-benefit analysis, then the Prime Directive says let them die. They probably would've come up with a solution to reignite their star decades earlier if they didn't keep forcing their scientists to off themselves.

    The fact that Kalon II sent two warships after the Enterprise because Timicin commits a cultural taboo in pursuit of trying to save his entire planet just shows how degenerate these people are. It's sad but sometimes the thing that causes the death of a species is their limited imagination.

    I say let them die. The Prime Directive means we don't interfere. If they run out of time and want to continue to be backward isolationists, then great, they can be extinguished along with their Sun. What's the dilemma here? I don't see one, other than Lwaxana being utterly hysterical.

    Robert: "Shanna, they bought their tickets, they knew what they were getting into. I say, let 'em crash."

    Mr. Kirkpatrick, is that you?

    The episode runs up against a couple of cliches at once: the culture that is utterly, stupidly inflexible, and the scientist who is The Only One Who Can Do the Thing. Remove either of these and the central dilemma of the episode disintegrates. The overall message -- we should respect people's cultural differences even if we personally disagree with them -- kind of gets smothered when the cultural is also depicted as suicidally stupid.

    "Lwaxana Troi has a relationship with a man whose world's custom is to commit suicide on their 60th birthdays."

    If Earth (let's say United Earth, in the TNG era) had that policy, what would people whose birthday was on February 29 do?

    all that, and she attends his murder?

    undid everything she stood for

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